With the Independence Day holiday behind us, all eyes are focused on two major events in the Democratic primary calendar: FEC reports, detailing how much candidates raised and spent in the second quarter of the year, are due by the July 15, and the second presidential debate is scheduled for the end of the month in Detroit, Michigan.
Catch up on the latest from each of the top-tier candidates, including Biden’s segregationist apology, Bernie’s poll problem, and Warren’s big fundraising boost:
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE)
A full 17 days after praising the civility of a Senate era in which he worked alongside segregationists, Joe Biden apologized for those remarks and claimed that a trip to South Carolina this past weekend was his first opportunity to do so in “a fulsome way.” Remember, when Cory Booker immediately called on Biden to apologize, the former veep shot back that Booker should apologize for alleging Biden was somehow a racist. What changed? Glad you asked.
In a series of polls released after the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami last month, Kamala Harris, who delivered a harsh rebuke of Biden for his comments about segregationists, saw a notable uptick in her polling, while Biden saw a noticeable slump. Biden still leads nearly every national and state poll, but the margins are closer now, which will only add to the scrutiny of the upcoming debates in Detroit later this month.
Perhaps tired of all the incoming he’s been receiving, Biden took a shot at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo over the weekend: “I think Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman, but she won a primary. In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education and healthcare.” Biden will need to find a way to appeal to far-left voters who like Ocasio-Cortez (and Sanders and Warren) if he wants to secure the nomination without spilling too much blood. It doesn’t seem that going after liberal darling AOC is the way to do it, however.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sanders’ campaign reported raising $18 million in the second quarter of 2019. That trailed Pete Buttigieg ($24.8M), Joe Biden ($21.5M), and Elizabeth Warren ($19M). While Buttigieg and Warren saw a dramatic increase in their Q1 to Q2 fundraising totals (Biden was not a candidate until after the Q1 reporting deadline passed), Sanders stayed remarkably consistent. He led the field in Q1 with $18.2 million raised and posted a similar number this quarter.
While that consistency could be a good thing (through recurring payments, Sanders is reportedly bringing in $1 million automatically each month), analysts are looking at Sanders’ polling trends with concern. CNN’s latest poll, conducted after the first debate, found Sanders with just 14 percent nationally, down from 18 percent in the previous poll. He trailed Biden, Kamala Harris, and Warren. The biggest problem for Sanders is he’s a known commodity – voters know him better than they do Harris or Warren. Can he turn this trend around? Sure, but it’s going to take some effort.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
As noted above, Warren’s biggest news this week was her monster fundraising quarter, posting $19 million in Q2 of 2019. Warren raised just $6 million in Q1, a disappointing figure that put her in the middle of the 2020 pack. But she was able to rebound and raise significant money without the aid of high-dollar fundraisers, a major talking point of her campaign. They claim an average donation of $28 and more than 364,000 donors, per NPR.
Warren’s campaign is eager to portray her success as the result of hard work. She’s released a series of “plans” to address what she deems to be social and economic ills facing our country (the latest is government intervention to ensure women of color receive equal pay to white women). And her campaign is quick to point out she’s held more than 100 town hall events and taken more than 35,000 selfies with voters.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Harris said she “applaud[ed]” Biden for his apology regarding his statement about segregationists, but stopped short of fully accepting it, per CNN. “There is still a point of disagreement between he and I, and that remains … which is the issue of busing,” she said in South Carolina over the weekend. “We cannot rewrite history about what segregationists were doing at that time on a number of issues including opposing busing.”
Meanwhile, Harris found herself playing a bit of defense over her record as a former prosecutor. Since entering the race, the media and her political opponents have criticized Harris for her prosecutorial record, noting that she perhaps went too far on issues ranging from criminal justice reform to truancy. Some of those issues adversely impacted African Americans in San Francisco and California statewide. “[L]et me be clear – self-appointed political commentators do not get to define who we are and what we believe,” Harris said to applause in Columbia, S.C.
And Harris’s campaign reported raising just $12 million in Q2, putting her significantly behind Buttigieg, Biden, Warren, and Sanders.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Buttigieg is still dealing with the fallout of a white police officer shooting a black man in South Bend last month. Buttigieg routinely polls in the low single digits among African American voters, and a new Politico analysis found that he actually lost support in predominantly black communities from his first term to his second.
Detailed precinct results from South Bend’s 2011 and 2015 mayoral races show Buttigieg repeatedly lagging in contests against black primary challengers in many of western South Bend’s predominantly black neighborhoods. And though Buttigieg still managed to win those precincts in two general elections against white Republican opponents, his support in these areas fell after his first term.
Meanwhile, Buttigieg’s campaign continues to ramp up. After raking in more than $24 million last quarter, the campaign added 30 organizers in Iowa late last month. His New Hampshire operation has expanded to about 12 people, and the overall campaign plans to have about 300 full-time staffers by Labor Day.
Environmentalist billionaire Tom Steyer, who announced in January he would not run for president, reversed course and announced he is running on Tuesday.
And Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) became the first 2020 Democrat to drop out of the race. It was reported earlier that he likely would fail to make the July debate stage.